I had an amazing session this week with a client who was just beginning to see, and talk about, something people all over the world are plagued with every single day! I see it as the source of addiction. John Bradshaw called it the “fracture of the soul”.
Imagine a 4 year old little boy. He is being silly at the dinner table, as most 4 year olds do, and he accidentally spills his milk. Dad jumps up and screams “Oh my God! Why weren’t you watching what you were doing? You always do this! Now look at the mess you’ve caused!” Mom runs as fast as she can to grab a towel and starts frantically mopping up the mess in silence. Unfortunately, this is a pretty familiar scene in many households. But now picture the 4 year old. He went from silly to sober in an instant. He is dealing with the pain of this scene by himself. Running through his little mind are thoughts such as, “Why wasn’t I more careful?” “I should know how to not spill my milk (because the adults apparently think I should).” “There must be something wrong with me.” This is where the fracture of the soul begins.
Through situations like this, we come to believe that we are flawed and defective at our core. We have to keep on living, however, so we do the only thing we know how to do. We double our efforts at being “good” (i.e., what everyone wants us to be) and try hard to hide the part of us that is “bad”. Our soul is fractured: there is the person I am supposed to be (and that I project onto everyone), versus who I really am (my real thoughts, feelings, ideas, needs, desires, etc.) and I must keep who I really am hidden deep inside. If you connect with this, the primary thing I want you to know is that you are not the only one!
This fracture of the soul (also called shame) is a problem affecting the majority of the population – and we are in a lot of pain! It is exhausting to keep the shameful one hidden while simultaneously ‘performing’ for everyone around us. The pain from this daunting task demands to be medicated. We numb our pain with food, alcohol, drugs, porn, sex, affairs, perfectionism, workaholism, shopping, plastic surgery, control, etc. When the fracture occurs, we use what we have at our disposal at the time to soothe our wounds. Sometimes we stick with our original drug of choice, sometimes we ramp up to something more powerful, or simply switch to something that fits our new lifestyle better.
How do you cure the fracture of the soul? Your secret must be brought out into the light. Very slowly, as with my client this week, you must begin to talk about the real feelings you are having about being flawed, defective, etc. When you are finally able to be that real with yourself and at least one other person, the fracture begins to heal. The more you bring the secrets out into the light, the more healing occurs. Eventually, you can accept your authentic self and you will begin to medicate less.
If you relate to this article, I promise that you are not crazy and you are not alone. You can come to peace with the shameful feelings inside of you, stop living in hiding and stop being a slave to your addictions. It will not be comfortable work, but the freedom that awaits is worth it!
To purchase Family Tree’s Director, Mark Smith’s brand new eBook, Healing Toxic Shame Through Recovery, go to http://familytreecounseling.com/index.php